Frauke Kreuter, Stephanie Eckman, Roger Tourangeau
The Salience of Survey Burden and its Effect on Response Behavior to Skip Questions: Experimental Results from Telephone and Web Surveys

Pp. 213-227 in: Paul Beatty, Debbie Collins, Lyn Kaye, Jose Padilla, Gordon Willis, Amanda Wilmot (Eds.): Advances in Questionnaire Design, Development, Evaluation and Testing. 2020. Hoboken: Wiley

Survey questionnaires often contain skip patterns, which let respondents skip over entire sections or a set of follow-up questions that do not apply to them, and thus allow them to proceed through the interview faster. Survey designers might ask how filter and follow-up questions can be presented to reduce the risk of motivated underreporting. We designed a series of experiments in which we varied the salience of the repetitive nature of filter and follow-up questions. The results show that changes in topic removed the salience of the filtering patterns. Using slightly varied follow-up questions and reducing the repetitiveness of the task increased endorsements to filter questions and thus successfully mitigated the effect of motivated underreporting. On the other hand, a visualization of the filtering by graying out items that no longer need to be answered reduced endorsements. Implications for questionnaire design involving filter questions are discussed.